Longtime raw milk friend and suppporter, and co-worker at Glencolton Farms, Beverley Viljakainen, has written up her impressions of the appeal proceedings this past Wednesday April 13, 2011, at Michael Schmidt’s request. Here it is:
On Wednesday, April 13, 2011, I sat with a roomful of others to witness the Province of Ontario’s appeal against Michael Schmidt’s acquittal on umpteen raw milk charges. What follow is my take on the proceedings, and what they rest on, in the light of the next day.
I was determined to keep an open mind, to listen attentively so that I might follow the various arguments. However, as the government lawyers “just doing their job” droned on, I once again noted that there is something terribly wrong with a judicial system that purports to uphold individual freedom while enabling the State to do everything but.
The government’s lawyers and support staff, employed secondarily by the Ministries of Health and Natural Resources and the Attorney General’s Office, and primarily by we the taxpayers, have spent years now on this case. We pay their not inconsiderable salaries and expenses, including the use of the four government cars in the parking lot. Yet, are we the people any closer to the freedom to make informed decisions about consuming raw milk for our health? No. And why not?
Because raw milk MAY contain pathogens that are harmful to the health that they claim to be the protectors of. So why not outlaw junk food, cigarettes, other unhealthy lifestyle practices, and bad air and water? Why not encourage such known immune enhancers as organic food, physical activity and stress reduction practices, the deficiency of which are known to lead to illness? And, wouldn’t one think that the fact that this particular milk, produced in an educated, experienced and sanitary manner, has made no one ill might lead our ‘protectors’ to conclude that their focus needs shifting a tad?
Yes, there are vested interests at play here, big time! Naïve we are not . . . and this elephant was also in the courtroom, as it has been throughout this State-created case. I had a very enlightening preview of things to come, when I was at the farm the day of the November 2006 raid and on the blue bus a little later when it was swarmed by public health officials, well flanked by the Ontario Provincial Police.
Even so, what is it that enables government employees to participate in such a farce, to comply with the dictates of their so-called superiors? The desire for power? Money? Name and fame? Career building? Watching this particular cast of characters before me in the courtroom, I couldn’t help thinking how much happier and healthier they would be if they got with the 21st century programme and directed their energies to actively, cooperatively, work with us toward viable solutions.
Instead, they choose to spend their time seeking ways to block our endeavours to make healthier choices. And even as they pursue their nefarious deeds, they somehow are able to convince themselves that their efforts are important because they alone are the protectors of public health! Psychiatrists have a special name for this delusionary mindset, even in those with highly functioning intellects.
And then there were the court moments spent on the ‘possible’ use of entrapment. I was the person who signed the undercover agent up as a cow share member, Michael having approved her on compassionate grounds. I heard in the appeal that this woman didn’t receive her membership card for six weeks.
In fact, I mailed it to her, as was my practice, three days later to what turned out to be a fictitious name and not her home address. The envelope found its way back to me, unopened and undeliverable. The address she gave me was a large government complex in Willowdale. Without a suite number and with a fictitious name, of course, it would not have found her. This was the second agent in this process that I know for a fact to have lied under oath.
In direct contrast to all of this, was Michael’s lawyer, Karen Selick, from the Canadian Constitution Foundation, who heroically mustered the stamina and presence of mind to function clearly and intelligently in this unnecessarily cumbersome process. The stark insanity of having to fight so hard for what any intelligent person easily recognizes as common sense became at times almost overwhelming.
Another breath of fresh air occurred during the lunch break when things became lighter, more spontaneous, and engaged. Just outside the courthouse, we gathered for the usual press interviews and what has now become a tradition when Michael appears in court: raising our glasses of raw milk in a toast to health and the freedom to choose this time-honoured, immune strengthening, unadulterated milk straight from healthy cows that our public health officials are determined to keep us from having.
An added treat was the delicious raw milk cheeses that another farmer had brought to share with us. The two pieces I had, along with half a litre of buttermilk made from the milk of the cows featured in the court proceedings, became my lunch. Without this sustenance, I would not have weathered as well as I did the rest of the very enervating process that I had come to bear witness to.
Added to all of this nutrient-rich, immune enhancing conviviality was the presence of Robert Dunlop, co-founder and producer of WellnessHeroes.TV, about to be launched as part of the solution to our culture’s emphasis on illness, rather than wellness. He invited anyone wishing to speak to him on camera to do so and he did not lack for takers! Michael is definitely a Wellness Hero. After all, the substance that is so under attack is milk, a food item that sustained so many of our ancestors for countless centuries.
I find that my impression at the time of the 2006 raids has not changed with the more recent proceedings; if anything, it has intensified: those who we pay to protect and promote our health are not the least bit interested in true health. They are there to do their job and, in the process, we are prevented from taking full and well-informed responsibility for our own health and that of our families.
On a lighter note, on one occasion each, two government lawyers couldn’t manage to pronounce the ‘m’ in ‘Schmidt’ when referring to Michael. I leave the reader to determine what actually came out of their mouths. Think “farmer’s gold”, as Michael calls it, so effectively does it nourish the fields.
Another incident that would have been downright funny had it not been so sad and ridiculous was when, at the end of the day, Mr. Dunn from the Attorney General’s Office, cited a ruling in favour of the use of marijuana in a serious illness situation. His point seemed to be that exceptions were possible in the use of raw milk under present legislation, the assumption being that a seriously ill person could seek court approval to acquire raw milk! As for anyone else, he would simply and emphatically not stand for it.
How intelligent is this? Would it not make more sense to work together to examine the relevance of the existing legislation in today’s reality, then to effect the necessary changes through the established legal channels? What’s obstructing a more reasonable process? As matters stand and from where I sit as witness, those who are simply ‘doing their job’ and, in the process, blocking the real issues from being examined, are engaged in a very sick-making exercise. They are actually preventing themselves from truly working for the common good, for real public health.
As matters stand now, they may also be provoking a pro-health revolution! I, for one, cannot comply with their senseless legislation and its enforcement, knowing that it stands between the people and their own optimal health and sense of wellbeing.
And I’m not alone. Thanks to all of you who made yesterday’s experience less surreal, bizarre and more human in what was yet another charade of human justice.
April 14, 2011
And, as a postscript, for anyone who’s curious about just how much these government lawyers earn, here are the results of some research on the subject:
If you were curious about how much money the Ontario government pays Michael Dunn, Alan Ryan and Shannon Chace, here’s the place to look.
Dunn gets a modest $105, 549, but he’s young.
Chace gets $132,638.
Ryan gets a whopping $187,495.
As for Mr. Kappos, who worked with Mr. Ryan on Michael’s trial, the Attorney General’s office thinks he’s worth $146,721.